Those damn dams

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Good morning folks,

I have a question on traversing dams in my Kevlar canoe.

When canoeing the Oswegatchie in my Royalex canoe when I encountered dams at the waterline I could just glide right over them. When I encountered some that were above the waterline a bit I would exit the canoe, stand on the dam, and pull my fully loaded canoe over.

How should I handle this in my Kevlar canoe? I am paranoid I will hear this cracking sound and be back in the market or back at the canoe shop for repairs - is something like this is even repairable?

Also, if I am dragging the Kevlar canoe over the water level dams how badly does this scratch the hull? I don't mind wear and tear on my gear - in fact I kind of like that lived in look. Just wondering what to expect.

Thank you.
 
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I've dragged my loaded stripper over beaver dams, getting out first and there hasn't been any scratching to the varnish from sticks or cracking of fiberglass. A very heavily loaded canoe might suffer. Sometimes beavers will carry mud to build dams with and there could be gravel in that that could be more abrasive.

A kevlar canoe should be more durable, unless it is a super featherweight ultralight that's sometimes advertised with one person holding the canoe up overhead single handed.

So maybe not...

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My advise ? When in Doubt ? Get out !

The Wilderness, is not a good place to do repairs.
 
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Depends a little on which kevlar canoe but same as lowangle al, slide across beaver dams. Tandem often only one person has to get out. Went over a concrete dam in BWCA in a SR Q17 - just like in frozen's photo - and no issue at all - but the epoxy and ribs of the SR makes it a little more resistant to this kind of abuse I find.
 
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Unless it is a very low dam that I can (heading downstream) glide over like a speedbump log I get out, but even then there are too many unknown variables for a single answer.

Ultralight or expedition lay up composite? Foam core, ribbed or ?

How tall a beaver dam? Is there a nice horizontal piece of wood on top to glide/slide/pull a loaded canoe across, or just a jumble of pokey sticks?

How heavily load with gear? How cantilevered will the stems be gliding or sliding? If I’m paddling over and dropping down will the stern clear, or leave me impossibly hung up, unbalanced and hearing ominous cracking noises?

Unless there is a glide-able tongue of flowing water over a shallow dam I’m usually a get out and drag over, sometimes taking a pack or two out of the canoe to lessen the weight/stress, although admittedly when dealing with the third beaver dam of the afternoon I may begin to take more chances.

is something like this is even repairable?

If you have all of the pieces of the hull most anything is repairable, albeit maybe not well or attractively in the field. Cracking a foam core or rib actually gives me more repair pause.
 
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Dams are perfect drowning machines with perfect reversals. Be careful about them except the really small ones.
Some friends ran a lowhead dam on the Truckee River in a raft. I told them to portage around it. They got stuck in the reversal. The boat tacoed and filled with water. Then the logs in the reversal thumped them repeatedlly. I threw them a rescue line and got them out. Three people quit the sport and walked back to the take out.
 
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You can drag over beaver dams. Tandem
canoes have a center weight concentration
We used to drag all the time in Wabakimi with heavily loaded with chainsaws etc over beaver dams
Solo loads are more at the ends and I am more cautious about supporting the load
Ppinw is referring to dams not encountered in the Adirondacks but are common elsewhere If its manmade it is a danger
 
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I'm with the majority here. Drag over. I've never had an issue with wood or composite. I do caution that some of those sticks are substantial and if they are sticking out at the right angle especially in the opposite direction of canoe force, they could puncture a hull. If I see a stick like that, I reposition it before I heave ho. No scuffing that would be of concern.

P5100254 by Barry Rains, on Flickr

PA020003 by Barry Rains, on Flickr

Barry
 
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Dragging over a log or beaver dam is normal.
In the West we have irrigation diversion dams all over the place. They are dangerous especially when they are vertical.
 
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Tandem canoes have a center weight concentration
Solo loads are more at the ends and I am more cautious about supporting the load

I was only thinking of traversing beaver dams in a solo canoe. It’s been a long time since I tripped in a tandem with a partner.

Waterdog’s photo is a good illustration of center weight concentration. With packs at either end of a center seat solo the physics become more concerning, especially with a light layup composite and cantilevered weight.

At least that is a nice solid beaver dam, probably for the lodge pond, not one of the flimsier secondary dams they sometimes build upstream or downstream to create smaller pools for safe travel and forage. Those secondary dams, though usually less tall, are sometimes just a jumble of unsteady sticks and can make for trickier footing.
 
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I push/pull my solo composites as well and never felt like the weight at the ends was a problem. When solo in a dedicated solo composite, I’m not with a 80+ dog and in sticking with the composite theme I travel much lighter and with one pack if possible.

I don’t have skills for determining beaver dam types, but I will say that some are indeed spongy to stand on and then I’m much more worried about staying dry than the boat capabilities. For me it’s about speed/efficiency and staying dry when crossing beaver dams. A solo tripping member “trapper John” had a tough go and had to stop a trip primarily because of those pesky dams. I think that report may be found in the Ottertooth archives.
 
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Thank you everyone. I am thinking about going from Low's over to the upper Oswegatchie and down to Inlet this spring. I think I just saved a bunch of time!
 
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I don’t have skills for determining beaver dam types, but I will say that some are indeed spongy to stand on and then I’m much more worried about staying dry than the boat capabilities. For me it’s about speed/efficiency and staying dry when crossing beaver dams.

I have never been a light packer. I don’t much worry about unsupported weight with our Royalex canoes, but with a heavy gear load in the solo UL kevlar boat I approach transiting some beaver dams more delicately.

About beaver dams, plural, on narrow/shallow streams beavers will build a primary lodge dam as well as secondary dams upstream and/or downstream, to create additional pools for safer travel beyond the confines of the main pond.

Those secondary dams, while often shallower and less substantial, can be more of a poorly constructed jumble of sticks, and more of a PITA to exit onto, stand and drag over.

There is a rarely paddled rural creek nearby I took on years ago that featured a half mile stretch of secondary dams both above and below the main pool. Day trip, little gear, RX solo canoe, but I began to say gimme-a-break bad words about beavers.

Heading upstream or down, when I come to a shallow mess-of-sticks dam, I kind of expect to find the primary dam a bit further along.
 
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i counted over 30 dams on the headwaters paddle. i loved the trip. i actually enjoy going over dams, unless they are real high and I'm going upstream. With my lightweight solos, I usually pull my canoe over sideways so that it isn't bridged
 
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Never mind the beaver dams.... this is what I guided some scouts through, shortly after the 1995 derecho blowdown on the oswegatchie. After we got through these we lost count crossing some 70 beaver dams on the remainder of the trip.
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I have many fond and funny memories of taking my scout troop on canoe trips. the harder it was, the more they liked it later.
 
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I have many fond and funny memories of taking my scout troop on canoe trips. the harder it was, the more they liked it later.

Not one scout complained about this trip from Lows to the Oswegatchie. Everyone seemed to honestly enjoy the challenges. As a matter of fact, this was a Venturing crew, with the then 15 yr old daughter of the scoutmaster and her brother along on the trek. She impressed me so much beyond any of the boys with her abilities that when she turned 18 she was selected to be on BSA National Camp School Northeast Region staff to train high adventure trek guides who are employed by BSA to work for scout camps all summer.
 
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